How To Shop For a New Water Softener


So what does “hard water” mean in plain English? Hard water can be bad on your skin, hair, laundry, dishes and plumbing!  The solution to this would be a water softening system.


The official definition water softening is:

“the reduction of the concentration of calcium, magnesium, and certain other metal cations in hard water. These “hardness ions” can cause a variety of undesired effects including galvanic corrosion, interfering with the action of soaps, and the build up of limescale, which can foul plumbing. Conventional water-softening appliances intended for household use depend on an ion-exchange resin in which hardness ions are exchanged for sodium ions. Water softening may be desirable where the source of water is hard. However, hard water also conveys some benefits to health by providing dietary calcium and magnesium and reducing the solubility of potentially toxic metal ions such as lead and copper.”


A water softener can be a real asset to your home. It can bring many benefits and save money in the long term. Following are some tips on selecting the right one for your home.


  • The first thing to do is check that the water is hard and actually needs softening. This will depend on your geographic location in the country and how the water may have been treated at source. Just using your eyes alone should tell you if you have hard water – the easiest way is to check how much limescale there is in your kettle. Hard water is defined as having more hardness minerals than one grain per gallon (slightly hard) all the way up to 10.5 grains per gallon (very hard). If you have hard water, clothes washed in it feel harsh to the skin. If you soften your water you will have cleaner and softer clothes, longer appliance life, and will use less household cleaning detergents and save on soap and shampoo.


  • To see what size of water softener might fit your needs, first determine how much softened water your household needs daily and compare that with the output of the equipment you are reviewing. Next determine whether it should be fully manual, semi-automatic, or fully automatic. Manual softeners require valves to be opened and closed as required. These control valves determine the duration of the regeneration of the softener. With a semi-automatic, the machine needs to be turned on when required and with a fully automatic machine, all that needs to be done is to keep the salt ‘reservoir’ topped up with suitable salt tablets. This is the most popular type for domestic households.


  • Next review whether any pre-treatment is necessary to remove iron and manganese. If the water softener is salt-based (not all are), check whether the sodium salts will harm your septic tank system if you have one. It not advisable to consume softened water so it is best to have a separate drinking water tap installed near the softener.


  • Always take into account all potential costs of the unit – meaning take into account the costs of the unit plus plumbing installation costs. Be sure also to review the list of manufacturer’s features against your actual needs. You may not need as big of a softening unit as you think. Other considerations include the cost of replenishing the salt container, general servicing costs, and easy access to the unit. If it is installed somewhere difficult to access and you opt for manual system, this can become quite problematic.


  • Ask around. Chances are if you determine you need a softener; your neighbors are already using one. Ask their opinion on their own units. This might dwindle your list down to a few name brands to choose from before you even hit the store!  Also, try to buy from a local and established company. This will make service calls much easier for you.


DISCLAIMER: Neither Indiana USDA Mortgages ( nor Luminate Home Loans is affiliated with any government agencies, including the USDA.

1 Comment

  1. Megan Alder
    Oct 29, 2020

    My husband and I have been thinking about buying a water softener since we think our house’s, is not working properly. I like that you talked about the importance of buying a softener that fits your household needs. We will definitely follow your device and we’ll start looking for a water filter supplier.

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